Loose Cannons (1990)

R | 94 mins | Comedy-drama | 9 February 1990

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HISTORY

The 24 May 1988 DV noted that producer Aaron Spelling was “readying” the film for production under the title Faceoff, but by the time principal photography began on 17 Jul 1988 in New York City, the title had changed to The Von Metz Incident, the 19 Jul 1988 HR announced. The film was scheduled to be shot in Toronto, Canada, the 25 Jun 1988 Toronto Star reported, but production remained in the U.S. “because the Canadian dollar [was] rising in value against the American dollar.” According to studio documents in AMPAS library files, the film’s most difficult stunts were done during the first week in New York, when a bus crashed its way through traffic and the villain fell through a “Kodak Colorama” photographic transparency forty feet above the lobby of Grand Central Station. The production spent the second and third weeks in Washington, D.C. The 26 Jul 1988 Washington Post added that the National Museum of Women in the Arts at 1250 New York Avenue NW, as well as the Daughters of the American Revolution building at 1776 D Street NW, were used, respectively, as the interior and exterior for the “West German Embassy.” The “Benedictine monastery” scenes were filmed at Mount St. Sepulchre Franciscan Monastery at 1400 Quincy Street NE in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington. Following the three weeks of location work, the cast and crew moved to North Carolina Film Studios (then called the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, or DEG) in Wilmington, NC, for interior work in sets for the police precinct squad room, a nightclub, and a bathhouse equipped with working Jacuzzi ...

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The 24 May 1988 DV noted that producer Aaron Spelling was “readying” the film for production under the title Faceoff, but by the time principal photography began on 17 Jul 1988 in New York City, the title had changed to The Von Metz Incident, the 19 Jul 1988 HR announced. The film was scheduled to be shot in Toronto, Canada, the 25 Jun 1988 Toronto Star reported, but production remained in the U.S. “because the Canadian dollar [was] rising in value against the American dollar.” According to studio documents in AMPAS library files, the film’s most difficult stunts were done during the first week in New York, when a bus crashed its way through traffic and the villain fell through a “Kodak Colorama” photographic transparency forty feet above the lobby of Grand Central Station. The production spent the second and third weeks in Washington, D.C. The 26 Jul 1988 Washington Post added that the National Museum of Women in the Arts at 1250 New York Avenue NW, as well as the Daughters of the American Revolution building at 1776 D Street NW, were used, respectively, as the interior and exterior for the “West German Embassy.” The “Benedictine monastery” scenes were filmed at Mount St. Sepulchre Franciscan Monastery at 1400 Quincy Street NE in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington. Following the three weeks of location work, the cast and crew moved to North Carolina Film Studios (then called the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group, or DEG) in Wilmington, NC, for interior work in sets for the police precinct squad room, a nightclub, and a bathhouse equipped with working Jacuzzi and sauna. The 27 Aug 1988 Chicago Tribune added that a scene in which the principals jumped from a bridge into water was filmed on the Northeast Cape Fear River.
       After test audiences disliked the original ending, in which Dan Aykroyd’s character, “Ellis Fielding,” returned to a Benedictine monastery for more therapy, the production shot a more upbeat finale in a hospital, showing the protagonists declaring their future partnership, the 14 Apr 1989 DV reported.
       According to the 5 Aug 1988 Washington Post, television commentator Martin Agronsky was scheduled to play himself in a scene in which he interviewed West German politician “Kort Von Metz,” portrayed by Austrian-born American actor Herbert Bergdorf. Agronsky’s role had first been offered to Cable News Network interviewer Larry King, but CNN nixed his participation because “the black humor in the film was in poor taste.” As it turned out, neither Agronsky nor Bergdorf appeared in the film; the roles were taken by Alex Hyde-White and Robert Prosky. The 18 Sep 1988 Chicago Tribune reported that actor J. T. Walsh was originally hired to play police detective “Weskit,” but star Dan Aykroyd objected to his appearance on the set because Walsh had recently co-starred in Wired (1989, see entry), an unflattering film biography of Aykroyd’s late friend and comedic partner, John Belushi. Walsh was replaced by actor Leon Rippy.
       Reviews for Loose Cannons were uniformly bad. The 9 Feb 1990 Chicago Tribune deemed it “crass,” “painfully derivative,” and “sleazy.” The 9 Feb 1990 Chicago Sun-Times declared, “the movie stinks,” while the 8 Feb 1990 Wall Street Journal pronounced it “so awful that it forces the mind to wander.” The 9 Feb 1990 NYT review called the movie “not entirely comprehensible.” The film did poorly at the box-office, prompting several editions of DV to use variations of the word “misfire.” For example, the 14 Feb 1990 DV reported: “Loose Cannons misfires with dud $35,000 in first 13 shots.”
       End credits give the following acknowledgments: “Special thanks to Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company; Amtrak; Norfolk Southern; Chemical Bank; The Mayor’s Office of New York City; The Washington, D.C. Film Office; The North Carolina Film Commission," and, "Filmed in part at North Carolina Film Studios, Inc.”

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Apr 1990
---
Chicago Sun-Times
9 Feb 1990
Weekend Plus, p. 42
Chicago Tribune
27 Aug 1988
Weekend Chicago, p. 15
Chicago Tribune
18 Sep 1988
News, p. 2
Chicago Tribune
9 Feb 1990
Friday, p. D
Daily Variety
24 May 1988
p. 3
Daily Variety
14 Apr 1989
p. 2
Daily Variety
19 Aug 1988
p. 26
Daily Variety
14 Feb 1990
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 1988
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Feb 1990
p. 4, 91
Los Angeles Times
9 Feb 1990
Calendar, p. 10
New York Times
9 Feb 1990
p. 14
Toronto Star
25 Jun 1988
Section G, p. 3
Variety
14 Feb 1990
pp. 34-35
Wall Street Journal
8 Feb 1990
Section A, p. 14
Washington Post
26 Jul 1988
Style, p. 3
Washington Post
5 Aug 1988
Style, p. 3
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Tri-Star Pictures Presents
An Aaron Spelling/Alan Greisman Production
A Tri-Star Release
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir, 2d unit
1st asst dir, 2d unit
2d asst dir, 2d unit
Nan Bernstein
Unit prod mgr, New York and Washington, D.C., crew
2d 2d asst dir, New York and Washington, D.C., cre
Julie Bloom
2d 2d asst dir, New York and Washington, D.C. crew
DGA trainee, New York unit
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Steadicam op
Elec best boy
Key grip
Best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
Dir of photo, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
Cam op, 2d unit
Gaffer, New York and Washington, D.C., crew
Elec best boy, New York and Washington, D.C., crew
Key grip, New York and Washington, D.C., crew
Best boy, New York and Washington, D.C., crew
Cam trainee
Panaglide op
Generator op
Steadicam 1st asst, New York unit
Elec, New York unit
Elec, New York unit
Elec, New York unit
Elec, New York unit
Grip, New York unit
Grip, New York unit
Grip, New York unit
Elec, Washington unit
Elec, Washington unit
Elec, Washington unit
Elec, Washington unit
Grip, Washington unit
Grip, Washington unit
Grip, Washington unit
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Prod illustrator
Art dir, New York and Washington, D.C., crew
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst set dec
Set dresser
Prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Set dec, New York and Washington, D.C., crew
Prop master, New York and Washington, D.C., crew
Leadperson
Scenic chargeman
Swing gang
Asst props
Rigger
Set dresser, New York unit
Const foreman, New York unit
Const grip, New York unit
Standby carpenter, New York unit
Standby scenic artist, New York unit
Asst props, New York unit
Props, Washington unit
Set dresser, Washington unit
Set dresser best boy, Washington unit
Const coord, Washington unit
Const laborer, Washington unit
Painter, Washington unit
Scenic artist, Washington unit
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
Seamstress
Seamstress
Seamstress
Men's ward, New York unit
Women's ward, New York unit
Ward asst, New York unit
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Ken Heeley-Ray
Supv sd ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
ADR ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Asst dial ed
Asst dial ed
Asst dial ed
Asst dial ed
Foley artist
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd mixer
Boom op
Rigger
Standby sd mixer, New York unit
Rec, New York unit
Boom man, New York unit
Sd, Washington unit
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff
Bill Lee
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Prosthetics
Titles and opticals by
Titles and opticals by
Spec eff asst, New York unit
MAKEUP
Make-up artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Projectionist
Prod accountant
Asst accountant
Loc mgr
Unit pub
Extras casting
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Prod coord
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Exec asst to Mr. Spelling
Asst to Mr. Clark
Asst to Mr. Griesman
Asst to Mr. Dupont
Aerial coord, 2d unit
Helicopter pilot, 2d unit
Helicopter pilot, 2d unit
Loc mgr (New York), New York and Washington, D.C.,
Loc mgr (New York), New York and Washington, D.C.,
Loc mgr (Washington, D.C.), New York and Washingto
Prod coord, New York and Washington, D.C., crew
New York casting by, New York and Washington, D.C.
Extras casting (New York), New York and Washington
Extras casting (Washington, D.C.), New York and Wa
Prod asst
Picture vehicle coord
Cam car
Craftservices
Caterers
Loc asst, New York unit
Prod asst, New York unit
Scr standby, New York unit
Craftservices, New York unit
Payroll, New York unit
Parking coord, New York unit
Transportation capt, New York unit
Asst locs, Washington unit
Prod secy, Washington unit
Prod asst, Washington unit
Payroll, Washington unit
Transportation coord, Washington unit
Transportation capt, Washington unit
Craftservices, Washington unit
STAND INS
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Loose Cannons," performed by Dan Aykroyd and Katey Sagal, written and produced by Peter Aykroyd and Ran Ballard; "Pleasure And Love," performed by Peter Aykroyd, written and produced by Peter Aykroyd; "Burnin' Up Over You," performed by Yvonne Murray, written and produced by Paul Zaza and Yvonne Murray; "I'm Popeye The Sailor Man," written by Sammy Lerner; "Proud Mary," written by John C. Fogerty; "The Theme From The Love Boat," written by Charlie Fox and Paul Williams.
SONGWRITERS/COMPOSERS
+
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Faceoff
The Von Metz Incident
Release Date:
9 February 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 9 Feb 1990
Production Date:
began 17 Jul 1988
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Firestar Film Enterprises
9 March 1990
PA456611
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Filmed in Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
94
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29430
SYNOPSIS

Near Washington, D.C., Joseph Grimmer and several neo-Nazi Germans chase a launch craft through river fog until the pursued boat runs up a ramp and crashes into a warehouse. Two men dressed in Alice in Wonderland costumes escape over a fence, but Grimmer’s men kill two others. Elsewhere, MacArthur “Mac” Stern and his Vice Squad partner, Drummond, are called to an apartment building to quell two noisy lovers. The cops threaten to arrest the man unless he goes to the store and buys condoms. When Mac returns to police headquarters, another detective informs him that Captain Del Doggett wants him to return to the Homicide Squad downtown, where he worked before being exiled for misbehavior. Meanwhile, as Ellis Fielding paints pictures at a Benedictine monastery, a monk-psychologist tells him this therapy is over, because he has been called back to police duty. The next morning, Mac sleeps in front of the downtown precinct in his vintage Ford 'Woody’ station wagon, which is filled with his cat and his possessions, because his apartment caught fire. A policeman awakens Mac with the news he is wanted at a crime scene in the marshes outside the city. When Mac arrives, Capt. Del Doggett welcomes him back to Homicide and shows him two corpses in Alice in Wonderland costumes. Ellis Fielding is also there, vomiting from the gruesome sight. The captain introduces Ellis as a forensics expert with an unusually “analytical mind.” As soon as Ellis finishes throwing up, he reconstructs the murders with deductive reasoning. One of the victims, dressed as the “Cheshire Cat,” is German, ...

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Near Washington, D.C., Joseph Grimmer and several neo-Nazi Germans chase a launch craft through river fog until the pursued boat runs up a ramp and crashes into a warehouse. Two men dressed in Alice in Wonderland costumes escape over a fence, but Grimmer’s men kill two others. Elsewhere, MacArthur “Mac” Stern and his Vice Squad partner, Drummond, are called to an apartment building to quell two noisy lovers. The cops threaten to arrest the man unless he goes to the store and buys condoms. When Mac returns to police headquarters, another detective informs him that Captain Del Doggett wants him to return to the Homicide Squad downtown, where he worked before being exiled for misbehavior. Meanwhile, as Ellis Fielding paints pictures at a Benedictine monastery, a monk-psychologist tells him this therapy is over, because he has been called back to police duty. The next morning, Mac sleeps in front of the downtown precinct in his vintage Ford 'Woody’ station wagon, which is filled with his cat and his possessions, because his apartment caught fire. A policeman awakens Mac with the news he is wanted at a crime scene in the marshes outside the city. When Mac arrives, Capt. Del Doggett welcomes him back to Homicide and shows him two corpses in Alice in Wonderland costumes. Ellis Fielding is also there, vomiting from the gruesome sight. The captain introduces Ellis as a forensics expert with an unusually “analytical mind.” As soon as Ellis finishes throwing up, he reconstructs the murders with deductive reasoning. One of the victims, dressed as the “Cheshire Cat,” is German, and one of the men who escaped was obese and dressed as the “Queen of Hearts.” Capt. Doggett informs Mac that Ellis is his new partner. However, as they drive back to headquarters in Mac’s Woody, it is clear the two men are incompatible. Mac is messy, and Ellis is neat. Mac smokes cigarettes and has a cat, while Ellis is allergic to both. Ellis explains that he has been on sick leave for two years. He generally annoys people, and assumes the identities of fictional characters when he is under pressure. At headquarters, a desk officer tells Mac the crashed boat belongs to Harry “The Hippo” Gutterman, a fat pornographer who runs a sadism and masochism (S&M) club in Washington’s industrial district. Surmising that Harry was the “Queen of Hearts,” Mac wants to find him before the killers do. When Mac and Ellis enter Guttman’s S&M club, Mac gets into a fight with security men. Ellis assumes the voices of several characters, including the “Cowardly Lion” from The Wizard of Oz, and distracts the thugs until one smashes him over the head with a bottle. Once Mac identifies himself, Gutterman demands police protection. On the way to headquarters, Gutterman explains that several Germans want to kill him because he saw a pornographic movie with Adolf Hitler and two men, along with some “historical stuff.” Everyone who has seen the film is dead, except for him and Steckler, a German who stole the film and is trying to sell it. Muller, the murdered “Cheshire Cat,” was the middleman who introduced Steckler to Gutterman. Suddenly, Ellis sees a car behind them, with Joseph Grimmer ready to fire an anti-tank rocket. Mac slams on the brakes to avoid the missile, and it blows up several parked vehicles. After a gunfight, the bad guys drive off, but Mac tells Ellis to get behind the wheel and give chase while he pours gunpowder into an antique blunderbuss. Frightened, Ellis impersonates several Star Trek characters as he drives. The neo-Nazis escape, but not before Mac’s Woody is destroyed. At headquarters, as Mac complains to Capt. Doggett about his new partner, the captain explains that Ellis is his nephew. While working undercover, Ellis was tortured by Colombian drug dealers and developed a multiple personality disorder, which required institutionalization at a Benedictine monastery. Doggett informs Mac that the missing Steckler was the personal secretary of Kort Von Metz, an ultra-conservative politician recently elected as West German Chancellor, despite rumors that he was one of Hitler’s favorite officers during World War II. Having destroyed Mac’s “home” in the car chase, Ellis invites him to stay in a spare bedroom in his apartment. Meanwhile, in an American television studio, an interviewer asks Von Metz about his rumored association with Hitler, but Von Metz denies ever meeting the Nazi leader. Grimmer approaches Von Metz’s associate, Gerber, who is shocked by Grimmer’s trail of murder victims and orders him to bring Steckler back alive. Grimmer taunts Gerber for allowing Steckler to steal the film in the first place. When Mac arrives at Ellis’s apartment, he is surprised to find that everything is painted white or light gray. Ellis explains that he needs as little stimuli as possible, in order to keep his personalities in check. He plays nature tapes of surf lapping on a beach. That night, Mac awakens hearing Ellis babbling in several voices, but in the morning, everything seems fine. Driving to the West German embassy, Mac and Ellis notice a man and woman following them. Inside the embassy, FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) agent Bob Smiley pulls the cops aside and tells Mac the multiple homicide case should not interfere with “national security priorities.” Smiley has a writ being drafted for Gutterman’s arrest and will be at police headquarters in an hour to take custody. Mac and Ellis immediately return to headquarters and interrogate Gutterman, threatening to telephone television media if he does not confess Steckler’s whereabouts. Gutterman confesses he will meet Steckler tomorrow at a New York City bathhouse. Mac and Ellis decide to drive to New York City, but they need Gutterman to identify Steckler. Seeing Smiley and his agents approaching outside, Mac and Ellis commandeer a police van and drive to the train station, followed by FBI agents in one car and the man and young woman in another. At the station, Mac and Ellis elude the federal agents by taking Gutterman on the wrong train, but the young woman and man climb aboard with them. The woman identifies herself as Israeli Mossad agent Rebekka “Reva” Lowengruen, and tells Mac she is looking for a stolen film that may show Von Metz was in Hitler’s suicide bunker. Joseph Grimmer and his neo-Nazis pursue the train in helicopters and force it to stop on a railroad bridge. Mac and Ellis, with Gutterman in tow, leap into the water below to avoid being machine-gunned and hide in a forest until morning. Ellis begs Mac to return him to the monastery, but Mac thinks he can be a functional policeman again. In the morning, they rent a car and drive into New York City, where Gutterman leads them to the Hadrian bathhouse, which he owns. Ellis tells his partner that Riva may also be there because he told her where they were going. She wants to show the film that night when Von Metz addresses the International Conference of Christians and Jews. Gutterman greets Steckler, but Joseph Grimmer’s men have already arrived and shoot the German. Before dying, Steckler tells Ellis where he hid the film. When Grimmer’s men capture the two cops and the fat pornographer, Ellis agrees to lead them to the film. To alert Riva nearby, Gutterman yells that the film is at Grand Central Station. Grimmer shoots and wounds him, but Gutterman falls over a railing to freedom. The Germans take the cops into the subway and lead them toward a tunnel, but Mac escapes on a train and rides to the next station. To get to Grand Central Station, he commandeers a bus and orders the driver to crash through traffic. At the train terminal, Mac finds Ellis in the basement and saves him from being killed, although Ellis is shot in the leg. The Germans rush to the public lockers to get the film, but Ellis tells Mac he gave them the wrong locker number. Mac hurries to the lockers and gets the film can, but after he escapes into the heating duct system above the station lobby, Grimmer gets the jump on him. Rather than surrender the film, Mac throws the canister through a glass photo display. It lands below on the floor of the lobby, where Riva and another Israeli agent retrieve it. Grimmer shoots Mac in the leg, but Ellis arrives in time to kill the neo-Nazi and send him crashing through the photo display. That night, as Von Metz speaks at the conference, Israelis expose him by showing a film of him as a young Nazi officer, delivering the coup de grâce to Hitler. Gutterman, Ellis and Mac end up at the same hospital, where Ellis entertains children with his characters. Mac and Ellis decide to partner up again as soon they can walk.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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